PALM BEACH, Fla. -- It's good to be the Super Bowl champion. You show up at the NFL owners meetings and the first thing everybody says to you, everywhere you go around every nook and cranny of the stately Breakers hotel, is "Congratulations." New York Giants coach Tom Coughlin wore a permanent smile all week at these meetings. And as he met the media during the NFC coaches' breakfast Wednesday morning, there was nothing that was going to knock that smile off his face.
"When you ask me about what it's like to win in New York, it's not like anything you ever experienced in your life," Coughlin said after running through some memories of the Giants' victory parade. "It's the stuff of legends. It's a magnificent experience."
Coughlin's second Super Bowl title in five years has ensured his legacy. He and the team are at work on a long-term contract extension that both sides say they believe will be done soon, and while he's not going to be immune from criticism in New York over the coming years if the Giants struggle, in the big picture he has attained a measure of long-range invincibility. History will record him as a two-time Super Bowl-winning New York coach, and will likely laugh at all the times he was supposedly on the verge of being fired.
"It's worth it. Well worth it," Coughlin said of the tough parts of coaching in the New York market. "I'll take the lumps to get what's at the end of the rainbow. Anytime."
Of course, Coughlin's a practical dude, and he knows the matter at hand is the plan for traversing the next rainbow as successfully as the Giants did the last one. He spoke about the team getting right back to work on grading and evaluating players the day after the parade, and he spoke of the ways in which he plans to use the Giants' 2011 experience in getting the team prepared for 2012.
"I think you start out by bridging, which I've always done, and the bridge is going to be the intangibles that took place to get us to where we were -- the team concept and the unselfishness that was captured on the part of our players," Coughlin said. "Just win the game. Don't worry about any of the other things. Play as hard as you can and win the game, and the rest will take care of itself. That was truly the attitude that we had -- serving each other, respecting each other, loving each other. So I'll bridge that for sure, and then where I go, I don't necessarily have the plan for that yet."
The key, of course, is to move across that bridge in the right direction. Too much looking back is detrimental. The bridging, and the use of last year's success as a coaching tool, must lead into 2012 success, or it's not a useful tool. But Coughlin's done this before. The Giants went 12-4 in 2008, the last year they were defending champs, and he's got some experience with building on success.
"We're going to go as hard as we can go, looking ahead, and utilize everything that we can from the past experience as it applies," Coughlin said. "But what you did yesterday does not necessarily allow you to do the same thing tomorrow."